After Marlboro I returned to Craftsbury, Vermont, where I grew up. I wanted to do something to use my degree in visual arts and creative writing, and decided that teaching art classes to community members would be a good way to earn some income and share my interests and skills. I opened the Art House Gallery, Studio & School in June 2009. A year ago we joined forces with another business that was in transition, Stardust Books and Café, and created one non-profit called The Common Place. Our mission is to cultivate the creative and literary interests of youth and adults in the Northeast Kingdom while supporting the local economy.
My official title is co-manager, but my role is more that of the director. I am the only person working in the organization not on an interim basis, other than our board of trustees. I make the calendar of programs, host events, teach classes, and manage the physical plant and the studio schedule. My time at Marlboro helped me make connections and understand how galleries work, and gave me the basic knowledge to jury good art and curate shows.
I first heard about Marlboro College Graduate School’s certificate program in nonprofit management in an email I regularly receive as a Marlboro alumna. My nonprofit is headed into its second year, a crucial time for development, and I felt that I needed to know more about how the nonprofit sector works. The classes in the program confirmed that I was moving in the right direction, corrected my actions when I was off base, and gave me the inspiration, motivation, and knowledge to move my organization into the future. As a certified nonprofit manager I feel capable and qualified to lead The Common Place through its second year and into the future.
The hardest part is finding the free moments between my paying job, as an admissions counselor at Sterling College, to return those phone calls, send emails, order supplies…there is so much to do, and so little time to do it all in. But I love creating community bonds through the programming, seeing how much people like to participate and seeing people engaged, learning and enjoying themselves. I’ve also become accustomed to the long days, and miss my work when I take a day off.
I enjoyed the open critique discussions we had at Marlboro, and I incorporate this format into classes here whenever I can. Broadening people’s perspectives of art, enhancing exposure, and raising awareness are some of the biggest goals of The Art House. One program that we host each month is the First Friday Art Talk. I asked former Marlboro visiting professor and outside evaluator Brian D. Cohen to speak in February-the gallery was full of his watercolors and copper etchings. It felt great to have one of the people who taught me printmaking at Marlboro exhibiting work and presenting in my own gallery.